Weekly Message from the Acting Superintendent 5/13

Weekly Message from the Acting Superintendent 5/13

Dear Monroe School District Community–

I have begun my messages to Monroe School District students, staff, and families by referring to us collectively as a community. Coretta Scott King said, "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." It has never been more important than now to treat one another with respect and compassion. People have gone through so much, sometimes more than we know, and it is critical that we extend grace and support to one another.

While there is so much going on right now, it is also important that we remain focused on our students. Our goal for the remainder of this school year is to end strong. We want students to end the year with affirmations of themselves as wonderful people and amazing learners. Do not forget to try out the five positive interactions for every one redirection strategy (mentioned in my message last week)!

Celebrate People!

Chris Cronas is our Executive Director of Elementary Education and Categorical Programs. In addition to providing support to our elementary schools and leaders, Chris's role is to identify specific students whose needs are not fully able to be met within the general education setting and require additional support. The programs Chris oversees are Title 1, Section 504, Multilingual Learners, homeless students, Learning Assistance Program, and the Skykomish Valley Indian Education program. All of these programs are designed to offer students a tier 2 level of support so that they are successful in the general education setting.

I asked Chris a few questions about our Multilingual Learners (MLL) program and he has provided information on the program and highlighted one of our MLL teachers.

For many years, we have referred to our students whose primary language is something other than English as 'English Language Learners'. Something we know about language learners is that they benefit tremendously from learning and developing literacy skills in their primary language. Language learners who become literate in their primary language increase the speed and fluency with which they adopt a second or third language. There are many reasons for this, including recognition of and respect for the culture from which they come and acknowledging their exceptional ability to navigate two or more languages when many of us speak only one.

Research shows that students who participate in dual language programs consistently outperform their monolingual peers. Like many other districts, we have adopted a new moniker to describe these students: Multilingual Learners or 'MLLs'. When we use the term multilingual, we acknowledge that the student is learning their primary language in addition to English - not just English. By adopting the title Multilingual Learner, we can more subtly support our students in sustaining their culture and language. And by helping our students sustain their culture, we better support their need to feel a sense of belonging at school, which we know has an enormous impact on their success, both academically and socially.

Teacher Highlight

Cathy Heidner is the primary MLL teacher currently serving Park Place Middle School. Ms. Heidner has been with the district for six years and is a graduate of Montana State University. When she was at Montana State, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship that allowed her to teach for ten months in Germany which was extended for an additional year. Ms. Heidner is a wonderful teacher and an amazing advocate for her students. She was instrumental in building out the foundational work we have done in adopting English Language Development strategies district-wide which we continue to share and develop mastery around as educators.

Ms. Heidner works with other teachers by doing what's best for them: connecting in person, catching them in the hallway, and emailing. She provides a lot of the support in a way that is easiest to get them what they need. Her favorite part of the job is those 'lightbulb moments' with students who see what they're learning and connect it to their lives. "That's the best part of what I do."

MLL services include working with students 1:1 or in small groups, supporting classroom teachers' use of English Language Development strategies and Sheltered Instruction, and often acting as a liaison between schools and multilingual families. Our MLL teachers are critical in supporting their students' language acquisition and advocating for the use of evidence-based teaching strategies among all teachers who serve our students.

National School Communicators Day!

Happy National School Communicators Day to our amazing Communications Department! Erin Zacharda and Tamara Krache are the individuals who make sure we have the information we need to understand what is happening throughout our public school system. For the last two years, this amazing team has helped us navigate difficult times, make sense of all the complex new information that was coming to us, and communicate important updates to our community. Earlier this month, this team received the highest honor of an Award of Excellence from the Washington School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) for the animated video they created explaining why the School Program and Operations Levy was needed. It is with deep appreciation that I acknowledge and thank them for all their incredible work.

We truly have an amazing staff in the Monroe School District!

Celebrating our Differences

We will continue to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage next week! "Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month) is an annual celebration that recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States."

In the Monroe School District we have students representing thirty-one different races: Asian, Hmong, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Native Hawaiian, Tahitian, Maori, Vietnamese, Okinawan, Thai, Lao, Taiwanese, Cambodian/Khmer, Asian Indian, Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Burmese/Myanmar, Samoan, Chamorro, Mongolian, Pakistani, Punjabi, Tibetan, Tongan, Chuukese, Fijian, Marshallese, and Guamanian. Isn't that absolutely amazing and beautiful!

Superintendent Chat - Monday!

I'd like to extend an invitation to community members to attend the last Superintendent Chat of the year on Monday, May 16th at 5:00 p.m. via Zoom. At last month's Superintendent Chat I had planned to discuss the results of our recent community Thought Exchange where we asked "what do we need to learn from the results of our recent School Program & Operations levy?" and the budgeting process as we prepare for the resulting $14 million deficit for the 2022-23 school year, but needed to shift the meeting topic due to staff availability. Therefore, we will be discussing it at this month's meeting instead. This will also be time for families to ask questions. I hope to see you there!


Kim Whitworth
Acting Superintendent